BLOG 9: A talk with Erin McElroy

As I was struggling to find sources to contact for my final paper, I found photos on my camera of protests that I’ve been to in the past. I saw a picture of Erin McElroy. I decided to contact her immediately to schedule an interview.

McElroy is a lead organizer of the Google Bus Protests and Eviction Free SF. She also started the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, which is a series of maps showing displacement in San Francisco.

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McElroy is originally from Massachusetts but she moved to California in 2006. She has always been interested in direct action organizing. She also documented displacement in Romania. After that she started to see that her friends were being evicted and presented buy-outs. “Me and my friends used to joke about starting our own moving business,” McElroy said. There was always friends moving out and crashing out on other’s couches.

McElroy was also apart of the Occupy movements in San Francisco and Oakland. All of these changes caused her to want to get involved with anti-displacement organizations in the Bay Area.”It was one thing to hear about my neighbors being evicted,” McElroy said.”But I wanted to visually see the changes going on in San Francisco. That’s why I started the mapping project.”

Now the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project has many organizers that help to gain the data. With the help from the San Francisco Tenants Union, they have created a survey so that they can keep track of how many families are being evicted. McElroy hopes to make a survey so they can track buy outs. Buy outs are off the record and often go unreported. She also hopes to add stories to each dot on the map to make the project more personal. I then asked her “why the Mission?”

She responded with: “That’s a very good question.”

McElroy thinks that there are particularly more renters and rent-controlled buildings in the Mission. Also, McElroy thinks that people in the tech companies move here because they are attracted to San Francisco aesthetically but don’t really contribute. She describes the Mission as quickly changing. The bars and restaurants are becoming more upscale. There are less laundromats because Google employees wash their clothes at headquarters. Since the bus stops are located in the Mission, more techies are going to live there. McElroy said they are trying to find different ways to “up the anty”. She hopes to see the city invest in local organizations instead of big corporations.

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